Introduction

At the end of June 2016 the National Assembly elected a new Competition Protection Commission panel. The chairman of the newly elected panel is experienced lawyer Julia Nenkova. Her candidature was raised by the prime minister's party and until her appointment Nenkova was deputy mayor of Sofia. Dimiter Kumurdjiev is deputy chairman; he is an experienced competition lawyer and was previously a member of the commission's panel between 1997 and 2003. The other five members are experienced lawyers and economists, but with limited competition law expertise.

Despite the old panel's mandate coming to an end, the commission showed an impressive level of antitrust activity during May 2016.

Electricity production, distribution and supply

In May 2016 the commission issued several statements of objection against some key players in the electricity production, wholesale and distribution markets.

One statement of objection was issued against the state-owned National Electricity Company EAD (NEK) for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the national wholesale and production market for electricity with a peak loaded profile, due to EVN Trading South East Europe EAD discriminating against its competitors.

A further statement of objection was issued against NEK after it delayed the process for a renewable electricity producer joining its supply grid. The commission also issued a statement of objection against Energo Pro Grids EAD (the licensed electricity distributor for Northeast Bulgaria), as well as against Energo Pro Sales AD for unjustified refusal to sign a long-term contract for the purchase of renewable electricity.

Further, the commission issued a statement of objection against CEZ Distribution Bulgaria AD (the licensed electricity distributor for West Bulgaria) for abuse of its dominant position in the market for controlling access to the electricity distribution grid.

Retail chains

Later in May 2016 the commission opened an investigation into prohibited agreements and practices against some of Bulgaria's biggest retail chains (eg, Billa, Kaufland, Metro, Lidl, T-Market, Fantastico and CBA) due to allegations of discrimination in favour of the chains' own brands. With the support of the Sofia Administrative Court, the commission conducted dawn raids at offices of two of the chains. However, the raids were repealed by the Supreme Administrative Court and the request of the commission's chairman was left unapproved.

For further information on this topic please contact Mariya Papazova at Advokatsko Druzhestvo Andreev Stoyanov & Tsekova in cooperation with Schönherr Rechtsanwälte GmbH by telephone (+359 2 933 1072) or email (m.papazova@schoenherr.bg). The Advokatsko Druzhestvo Andreev Stoyanov & Tsekova website can be accessed at www.schoenherr.eu.

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